California turning to Solar Power for Jails, Schools
We’re seeing a new trend in cash strapped states like California. Many state agencies looking at alternative ways to save money are going green. Once looked at as being too expensive, Solar Power is one of the more popular and cost efficient ways to cut cost.
In San Diego County on Monday, officials flipped the switch on a new solar installation that will provide 14% of the power needed for a major jail complex.
Similar efforts are underway at state prisons, schools, universities and libraries throughout Southern California, as well as other parts of the state.
“There’s an increasing investment by schools and other public agencies,” said Bill Kelly, a managing director of San Jose-based SunPower Corp. “Because the cost of energy from solar is getting increasingly competitive with standard power sources.”
The company has built solar installations at 90 schools so far this calendar year, including several Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.
Part of the reason it’s getting cheaper to install solar is that public agencies are increasingly turning to an unusual form of construction to build their projects.
Instead of putting the panels on the roof, an expensive process that is constrained by the size and shape of a building’s roof, municipalities are instead building what are essentially gigantic carports over their parking lots.
It sounds like a win/win. The state saves money, and helps the environment.
The San Diego installation, which is expected to save the county $1.4 million in power costs over the next 20 years, is built over the parking lot of the East Mesa Detention Complex in Otay Mesa.
“This used to be a bare parking lot, said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, whose district includes the jail. “Now it’s generating energy whenever the sun’s out.”